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Do you have questions about the ACT OR SAT exam? Well, DBRLTeen has answers. We have compiled a list of resources to help you prepare for these college entrance exams.
- How much does the ACT OR SAT exam cost?
- Where are the testing centers in Boone and Callaway counties?
- What are the deadlines to register for the ACT OR SAT exam?
- Most importantly, how can I prepare for these tests?
Learn more by reviewing our online guide to ACT/SAT preparation. Young adults are also encouraged to borrow one of our many printed ACT or SAT test guides, or take free online practice exams through LearningExpress Library. And, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog updates for regular reminders of upcoming test registration deadlines!
Originally published at ACT/SAT Test Prep Resources @ Your Library.
“Code Name Verity” is a fictionalized story of the friendship of two women during World War II. The first part of the book is Julie’s side of their story and then Maddie’s account is the second half. Julie is captured and is forced to write down all of the information she knows in regards to the war (code names, airports, war plans and strategies, etc.). I enjoyed listening to this book on CD. The readers did a great job of portraying their characters. I am going to listen to the book again due to the twist at the end I didn’t see coming.
Three words that describe this book: Friendship, World War II, Prisoner
You might want to pick this book up if: You are looking for a book about friendship, or you want to know what role some women played during World War II and what some people went through when they were captured.
“The Amulet of Samurkand” – intriguing, but kind of a hard title to remember. Instead, remember this name – Bartimaeus. While young Nathanial is the star magician in this story, it’s the djinni he summons, Bartimaeus, who makes this book such a worthwhile read.
Chapters alternate in narration between Bartimaeus…a long-lived djinni who survives by his wits as much as his magic, and Nathanial, an apprentice perhaps too smart and ambitious for his own good. When Nathanial is painfully humiliated by a magician while his own master stands by and does nothing, Nathanial takes matters into his own hands by summoning Bartimaeus. However, even with the “help” of Bartimaeus (who at the beginning of the novel would love to turn his mischief on Nathanial himself), the misguided apprentice gets himself from a bad situation into a much worse one. He is NOT Harry Potter–his motivations are initially all about revenge, and he makes some pretty petty comments throughout the story. Good thing he has Bartimaeus along – or is it?
One gem of this book is its footnotes. Now sometimes, footnotes just annoy me. The little numbers can be a distraction, and the footnotes themselves often contain historical references to something not directly related to the plot. Not so with this story, however. Bartimaeus gives insight into the magical world, explains his motivations for certain actions, and even explains why he censored an interrogation in the story proper. And he narrates all these footnotes with wit and humor – don’t skip over them!
Like many books, this story is part one in a series. The author, Jonathan Stroud, does give a conclusion to this book. I’m betting, however, that if you venture to read book 1, you’ll be on board for books 2 and 3 (and a Bartimaeus prequel as well). Enjoy!
- Book 1: “The Amulet of Samurkand“
- Book 2: “The Golem’s Eye“
- Book 3: “Ptolemy’s Gate“
- Prequel: “Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon” (read after the trilogy)
Originally published at Books for Dudes – The Amulet of Samurkand.
Congratulations to Rachel from Ashland on winning our eighth and final Adult Summer Reading 2014 prize drawing. She is the recipient of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.
That wraps up our Adult Summer Reading program for this year. If you didn’t win a prize, we hope you will try again next year. A big thank you to everyone who signed up and submitted book reviews. Make sure to come back to DBRL Next to see what other patrons have recommended. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our upcoming One Read program. This year’s selection is “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown.
Review of the Seven Deadly Sins Mystery Series, by Anne Zouroudi
Some mysteries, especially those of the “cozy” persuasion, move at a leisurely, describe-every-parasol-and-moustache pace. This generally does not work for me. Forget the stage-dressing, give me lots of action and witty repartee, and wrap it up with a clever solution in under 300 pages, and I’ll be your fangirl. Otherwise, it’s the nearest book drop for you, Cozy Author.
But it seems I’m becoming a kinder, gentler mystery reader. To my surprise, I just finished the fourth book in the Seven Deadly Sins series – a set of strangely hypnotic mysteries with a pace that can only be described as glacial.
This is largely due to the mellow, tortoise-like demeanor of the central character, Hermes Diaktoros, referred to throughout the series as “the fat man.” We never learn much more about Diaktoros, other than that he’s Greek, meticulous about his appearance (especially about his trademark white sneakers), and mysteriously well-off and well-connected. It also soon becomes clear that he’s very, very observant and just about fearless.
The fat man meanders around the Mediterranean doing – well, we’re often not quite sure what he’s doing. Righting vague interpersonal wrongs? Investigating crimes that no one else wants solved? He sits in cafes, takes long, leisurely walks, asks the locals odd questions and collects things in tiny boxes. Eventually, what was dark and sinister is brought to light and justice. Sort of.
I realize I’m not explaining this very well, mainly because I have a hard time remembering what actually happens in these books. I just drift along, enjoying Zouroudi’s luscious, atmospheric prose, spacing out in a sweet Mediterranean dream – the lemony sunshine, the bay dotted with fishing boats, the smell of sea and rosemary. And hey…that fat man over there. What’s he doing?
Now that I’m deep into this mystery series, I know that if I follow this slow, strange guy around for awhile, things will get very interesting. And that seems to work for me.
THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS MYSTERY SERIES AT DBRL
“The Messenger of Athens” (Lust)*
“The Taint of Midas” (Avarice)
“The Doctor of Thessaly” (Envy)
“The Lady of Sorrows” (Wrath)
*In this first book, the fat man doesn’t appear very often. Fortunately, the author corrects this mistake in the rest of the series.
Note: The next three books in the series – “The Whispers of Nemesis” (Pride), “The Bulls of Mithros” (Sloth), and “The Feast of Artemis” (Gluttony) are not yet available in the U.S.
The post Who Is Hermes Diaktoros, and What the Heck Is He Doing? appeared first on DBRL Next.
With the end of summer fast approaching, I wanted to share all the ways the library helps you stay connected to the books and services you love most. All you need is an internet connection, an email address and a library card.
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/YourDBRL.
Download an eBook or audiobook.
Get the most popular teen titles on your iPod Touch, iPhone, Android, Nook, Kindle, or other device. Check out our Quick Start Guides or watch our online video tutorials to get started.
Watch movies or stream music.
Our newest online service, Hoopla, allows you to watch movies, or listen to music and audiobooks with your computer or mobile device for free. Download the free Hoopla mobile app on your Android or iOS device to begin enjoying thousands of titles from major ﬁlm studios, recording companies and publishers.
Submit a book rave or rant.
We love to hear about what teens are reading! Using this form, share your thoughts on the the books you love… and loathe. Select reviews will be highlighted on DBRLTeen.
Subscribe to our teen book eNewsletter.
Get a monthly email newsletter focusing on the most popular new releases in young adult fiction.
Join an online book club.
Each weekday you will receive successive five-minute selections from the beginning of a current teen book. By the end of the week, you’ll have read 2-3 chapters.
Register for our monthly teen program update.
Receive an email each month with a listing of our upcoming programs like writing workshops, book giveaways, art contests and teen gaming nights.
Sign up for DBRLTeen’s blog updates.
Get library program reminders, contest announcements, as well as book reviews and recommendations delivered directly to your inbox.
Originally published at Stay Connected @ Your Library.
In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson appointed his secretary, Meriwether Lewis, to lead an expedition into the land west of the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis asked his friend, William Clark, to partner with him. Starting in 1804, it was a journey that took them and the other men who made up their crew two and a half years, from the onset of their trip until their return. Their original journals went into great detail about the dangers they faced – hunger, bitter winters, torrential rains, sickness, etc. The journals also detailed the joy they shared with each new discovery and their friendship with Native American tribes. From those diaries the Salisburys were able to write a true account of this first journey to the West. I have always been interested in the Lewis & Clark Expedition and lived near a part of the Mississippi River where the explorers traveled and camped. The authors have included over 150 illustrations of the trail they took, describing mountains, plains, the Indian camps and people, wildlife and rivers, as well as maps that are based on the diaries. This book is a well-rounded, accurate story of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
Three words that describe this book: Historical, Adventuresome, Interesting
You might want to pick this book up if: People who are interested in American history and the Lewis & Clark Expedition would enjoy reading this book.
We recently added “We Always Lie to Strangers” to the DBRL collection. The film was shown earlier this year at Ragtag Cinema and currently has a rating of 86% from audiences at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:
A story of family, community, music, and tradition, five years in the making, set against the backdrop of Branson, Missouri, one of the biggest tourist destinations in America. At the heart of Branson’s appeal is the staged music shows that earned the town the moniker of the live music capital of the world. These shows are well known for their traditional, family style of entertainment and crowds from around the country flock to Branson for this, return to old-fashioned values.A story of family, community, music, and tradition, five years in the making, set against the backdrop of Branson, Missouri, one of the biggest tourist destinations in America. At the heart of Branson’s appeal is the staged music shows that earned the town the moniker of the live music capital of the world. These shows are well known for their traditional, family style of entertainment and crowds from around the country flock to Branson for this, return to old-fashioned values. – See more at: http://dbrl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/576335018_we_always_lie_to_strangers#sthash.7WwXG45y.dpuf An animated documentary on the life of controversial MIT professor, philosopher, linguist, anti-war activist and political firebrand Noam Chomsky. Through complex, lively conversations with Chomsky and brilliant illustrations by Gondry himself, the film reveals the life and work of the father of modern linguistics while also exploring his theories on the emergence of language. – See more at: http://dbrl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/577581018_is_the_man_who_is_tall_happy#sthash.59NCeRDk.dpuf Roger Ross Williams explores the role of the American Evangelical movement in fueling Uganda’s terrifying turn towards biblical law and the proposed death penalty for homosexuality. Thanks to charismatic religious leaders and a well-financed campaign, these draconian new laws and the politicians that peddle them are winning over the Ugandan public. But these dangerous policies and the money that fuels them are coming from American’s largest megachurches. – See more at: http://dbrl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/559029018_god_loves_uganda#sthash.hmxmLNTm.dpuf Roger Ross Williams explores the role of the American Evangelical movement in fueling Uganda’s terrifying turn towards biblical law and the proposed death penalty for homosexuality. Thanks to charismatic religious leaders and a well-financed campaign, these draconian new laws and the politicians that peddle them are winning over the Ugandan public. But these dangerous policies and the money that fuels them are coming from American’s largest megachurches. – See more at: http://dbrl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/559029018_god_loves_uganda#sthash.hmxmLNTm.dpuf
The Newbery Medal is awarded each year to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” The Newbery Medal is to children’s literature what the Oscar is to the Academy Awards. In plain English: This award is given to the best chapter book of the year. Some popular Newbery award-winning titles include “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate, “The Giver” by Lois Lowry and “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman.
About our Mock Newbery Program:
Throughout the fall, we are inviting youth in grades 4-8 to join us twice per month to discuss this year’s Newbery finalists. Library staff will facilitate the sessions along with Nancy Baumann, a local educator and previous Newbery committee member. This is the third year that the library has offered this unique book club opportunity and we hope that you will consider signing up.
How to get involved:
Sessions will be held from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at the Columbia Public Library on the following Wednesdays: Sept. 10, Oct. 1, 15, 29, Nov. 5, 19, Dec. 3, 17. Registration begins Tuesday, September 2. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.
Originally published at Heavy Medal: Mock Newbery Awards.
Do you enjoy mysteries? Do you like plants? If you answer “yes” to both of these questions, then Ruth Kassinger’s “A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered That Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of Plants” is just the book for you. Think about it – few things around us are more mysterious than plants, and Kassinger does a great job writing about them in an engaging and entertaining way. She talks about plant evolution, the history of botany and the people who propelled it forward (as well as the techniques they used). She describes her visits to universities where contemporary scientists shared their knowledge with her. And she shows the inner workings of plants: the way they breathe, propagate and survive adverse conditions (this information is arranged in three separate chapters: roots, leaves, and flowers). Kassinger even explores the world of competitive giant pumpkin growing, and she takes her readers to an annual fall festival in Maine, where pumpkin lovers turn pumpkins into competitive racing boats.
At the end of the book, the author touches on the possible benefits of the genetic engineering of food plants and the use of plants as biofuel. One of the readers described “A Garden of Marvels” this way: “I highly recommend this book to everyone – even if it means I’m no longer the only one in the room who knows the difference between collenchyma and sclerenchyma, and I lose my Look-How-Plant-Smart-I-Am edge in cocktail party small talk.”
P.S. If you like “A Garden of Marvels,” don’t miss another book by Kassinger: “Paradise Under Glass: An Amateur Creates A Conservatory Garden.”
“Lionheart” is about King Richard the Lionheart of England and his time in the crusades. I love this author, Sharon Kay Penman, particularly her historical mystery novels, but I also fell in love with this series with the first book, “When Christ and his Saints Slept.” It can be a bit much to read these all in a row, but if you like historical fiction, her books are incredibly well-researched and I even enjoy her author’s notes where she talks about her research. I get to learn and be entertained at the same time! This book is no different from her others and brings King Richard to life, presenting him as a much more complex character than his legend.
Three words that describe this book: entertaining, historical, balanced
You might want to pick this book up if: You like well-researched historical fiction.
The Gateway Readers Award honors a young adult novel that is selected by Missouri high school students. Even though this award is administered by the Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL), it is the responsibility of Missouri teens to vote on the actual winner. This year’s finalists were announced last December and voting will take place in March 2015.
This year’s nominees include several dystopian books such as “Starters” by Lissa Price and “Article 5” by Kristen Simmons. There are also several promising realistic fiction titles including “Something Like Normal” by Trish Doller and “Boy21” by Mathew Quick.
My personal favorite, so far, is David Levithan’s “Every Day.” He and John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” teamed up several years ago to write a fantastic book called “Will Grayson, Will Grayson.” It’s not surprising to find both accomplished writers on this year’s Gateway nominee list.
“Don’t Turn Around” by Michelle Gagnon
After waking up on an operating table with no memory of how she got there, Noa must team up with computer hacker Peter to stop a corrupt corporation with a deadly secret.
“Starters” by Lissa Price
To support herself and her younger brother in a future Beverly Hills, 16-year-old Callie hires her body out to seniors who want to experience being young again, and she lives a fairy-tale life until she learns that her body will commit murder, unless her mind can stop it.
“Something Like Normal” by Trish Doller
When Travis returns home from Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother has stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he has nightmares of his best friend getting killed. However, when he runs into Harper, a girl who has despised him since middle school, life actually starts looking up.
“Of Poseidon” by Anna Banks
Galen, prince of the Syrena, is sent to land to find a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. He finds Emma and after several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, Galen becomes convinced Emma holds the key to his kingdom.
“Article 5” by Kristen Simmons
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned. The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes. Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings, the only boy Ember has ever loved.
“Croak” by Gina Damico
A delinquent 16-year-old girl is sent to live with her uncle for the summer, only to learn that he is a Grim Reaper who wants to teach her the family business.
“Burning Blue” by Paul Griffin
Beautiful, smart Nicole is disfigured when acid thrown is in her face. She befriends Jay, a young computer hacker, while visiting the school psychologist’s office, and Jay resolves to find her attacker.
“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.
“Trafficked” by Kim Purcell
A 17-year-old Moldovan girl whose parents have been killed is brought to the United States to work as a slave for a family in Los Angeles.
“The Night She Disappeared” by April Henry
Told from various viewpoints, Gabie and Drew set out to prove that their missing co-worker Kayla is not dead. Meanwhile, the police search for her body and the man who abducted her.
“Every Day” by David Levithan
Every morning A wakes in a different person’s body, in a different person’s life, learning over the years to never get too attached, until he wakes up in the body of Justin and falls in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon.
“Revived” by Cat Patrick
Having been brought back from the dead repeatedly by a top-secret super drug called Revive, 15-year-old Daisy meets people worth living for and begins to question the heavy-handed government controls she has dealt with for eleven years.
“Boy21” by Mathew Quick
Finley, an unnaturally quiet boy who is the only white player on his high school’s varsity basketball team, lives in a dismal Pennsylvania town that is ruled by the Irish mob. When his coach asks him to mentor a troubled African American student who has transferred there from an elite private school in California, he finds that they have a lot in common.
“Dark Eyes” by William Richter
Adopted from a Russian orphanage by a wealthy New York family then growing into a rebellious youth, 15-year-old Wally resolves to find her birth mother who stole a fortune from her murderous, dark-eyed father.
“Breaking Beautiful” by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Allie is overwhelmed when her boyfriend, Trip, dies in a car accident, leaving her scarred and unable to recall what happened that night, but she feels she must uncover the truth, even if it could hurt the people who tried to save her from Trip’s abuse.
Originally published at 2015 Gateway Award Nominees.
Graphic novels can be great to read if you don’t have a lot of time or if you don’t consider yourself much of a reader. With more images and fewer words than a regular novel, graphic novels make it easy to get drawn into the author’s world. Science fiction in particular is a great genre to read in graphic novel form because the images help bring the story to life, giving real depth to aliens, monsters and spaceships. I went through DBRL’s collection of science fiction graphic novels, which is pretty large, and picked out five popular and interesting series to tell you about.
Tune by Derek Kirk Kim
Lighthearted and funny, “Tune” is great read. This graphic novel is going to be more fiction and a little less science. It’s about an art college student named Andy who finds himself in desperate need of a job. The only offer Andy gets is to be an exhibit at an alien zoo. Not only is this graphic novel full of witty humor, but it is also drawn well, easy to read and hard to put down. Currently, there are only two books in the series, but with the way the second book ends, there is no doubt that more are going to come.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Chris Roberson
This series is the prequel story to Philip K Dick’s science fiction novel of the same name. If you enjoyed that read, then this graphic novel is definitely worth checking out. It follows two different story lines that slowly grow together and begin to intertwine. With an android trying to hunt down other runaway androids, an empath trying to control his power and a scientist trying to save the human race from dying out, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep has it all.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
The series Saga starts by throwing us into a Romeo and Juliet-esque romance where a couple from two warring races are having a child together. What better way to start a graphic novel than that? With characters like a teenage ghost, a robot prince, a dad with magic and a mom with wings, it’s hard not to love Saga. Just beware, you won’t find the same lighthearted sense of humor here that is present in Tune. There are currently three volumes published in the Saga series.
Y, The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan
When I found out that the series Saga and Y, The Last Man were written by the same author, I wasn’t too surprised. Y, The Last Man shares the same serious and slightly violent feeling that Saga does. In this graphic novel series, the plague doesn’t turn people into zombies; it kills off every living creature with a Y chromosome, minus, of course, one spunky escape artist, Yorick, and his male monkey, Ampersand. While Yorick, a secret agent, and a scientist try to find a way to save mankind, the trio gets caught up in a lot of scary situations. With 10 volumes in this series, it will keep you turning pages till the very end.
The Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman
The Manhattan Projects was my least favorite series of the five. The story was based around an alternative history involving scientists and aliens. It is well written, and the art style is original and different. It is set right after the fall of Hitler and Nazi Germany. A group of scientists have created a special lab, The Manhattan Projects, where they investigate portals to alternative worlds, nuclear bombs and computers that can think on their own. It is an interesting concept, but because it is based in real history, I had a hard time not questioning the plausibility of what was occurring. If you’re interested in scientists and history, though, then this is the science fiction graphic novel for you.
We recently added the “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” series to the DBRL collection. The 4 disc set is a collection of the episodes originally released earlier this year on TV. Here’s a synopsis from the National Geographic Channel:
Hosted by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, COSMOS will explore how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time. It will bring to life never-before-told stories of the heroic quest for knowledge and transport viewers to new worlds and across the universe for a vision of the cosmos on the grandest scale. COSMOS will invent new modes of scientific storytelling to reveal the grandeur of the universe and re-invent celebrated elements of the legendary original series, including the Cosmic Calendar and the Ship of the Imagination. The most profound scientific concepts will be presented with stunning clarity, uniting skepticism and wonder, and weaving rigorous science with the emotional and spiritual into a transcendent experience.
Check out the official show website for more info.
Callie Harper lives in the Amish community of Shipshewana, Indiana and she owns the quilters shop left to her by her late aunt. Since she arrived in this little community she has made friends, English and Amish. She has also been accused of murder and found an unlikely ally on the police force. Now the unthinkable happens: someone murders her competitor in front of Callie’ s own shop. To make matters worse, her friend Melinda’s wheelchair-bound son is the only witness. Will the Amish community help in the investigation or will they protect the murderer?
I do not typically pick up Amish books but I do love a clean mystery. This book was great on both counts!
Three words that describe this book: Amish, mystery, Christian
You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy clean, fun mysteries with a Christian slant to them.
Congratulations to Margie, a Fulton patron, for winning our seventh Adult Summer Reading prize drawing of the summer. She is the recipient of a $25 gift card from Well Read books.
Our final drawing of the summer will be this week, so keep your fingers crossed. You can still submit book reviews to increase your chances of winning.
“The Giver” by Lois Lowry was first published over 20 years ago. Since then, generations of middle school students have read this short, but powerful, novel. Sometimes it is requisite reading, and other times it is discovered after reading today’s dystopian bestsellers like “The Hunger Games” or “Divergent.”
The film adaptation of this Newbery award-winning book is set to release on August 15. To celebrate, the Columbia Public Library will be hosting a book discussion of “The Giver” with some fun related activities. Join us in the Children’s Program Room from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 5. Registration is required. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161. Ages 10 and older.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the remaining books in “The Giver” Quartet: “Gathering Blue,” “Messenger” and “Son.” Each book invites you to explore Jonas’ society through the eyes of different person, each with a special talent or history that sets them apart.
Originally published at Program Preview: “The Giver” Celebration.
That excellent rhyme is from the Beastie Boys’ song, “The Sounds of Science” off their classic album “Paul’s Boutique.” While not technically about science, the song does refer to Isaac Newton, Galileo, the theory of relativity and Ben Franklin’s famous kite experiment. The Beastie Boys are using science as a metaphor for their expansive skills and knowledge.
Science doesn’t just pop up in music for clever wordplay and braggadocio (although that is pretty awesome, right?). Many songs are inspired by science. In some that inspiration is implied, and in others it’s explicit. Scientists also have a fascination with music, on how and why it has an effect on us. Here are a few of the more interesting items in the library catalog where science and music intersect.
“Schoolhouse Rock: Science Rock”
This is a collection of science songs from the iconic TV show. It’s an ideal soundtrack for a certain generation longing nostalgically for the lost, lazy Saturdays of their youth. Or it could be the ideal soundtrack for that generation’s children to learn about electricity, gravity and the human body.
“Here Comes Science” by They Might be Giants
It’s probably no coincidence that Misters Flansburgh and Linell turned their talent for writing fact-based pop songs into educational children’s songs around the time they each became parents. They haven’t let that niche audience hamper their unique style in these songs. They are as enjoyable for the childless TMBG fans as for those cranking this CD in their minivan full of kids. And if you’ve been looking for inventor Nicolai Tesla’s impact on the world encapsulated in a pop song, then check out “Tesla” from their album “Nanobots.”
“This is Your Brain on Music” by Daniel J. Levitin
Daniel J. Levitin is a former session musician, sound engineer and record producer. He is now a neuroscientist who runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University. When the book jacket says this is “the first book to arrive at a comprehensive scientific understanding of how humans experience music,” you at least know the author has the bona fides to tackle such an ambitious subject. I’m not qualified to say how comprehensive the book is, but it is a fascinating and wide-ranging look at one of our great obsessions. Levitin begins with the fundamentals of what music is. He then expands out to questions like the evolutionary origins of music and why we like the music we do.
“Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain” by Oliver Sacks
Oliver Sacks is probably best known for the movie “Awakenings,” which is based on his book of the same name. He writes that it was seeing the effects music had on the patients in “Awakenings” that prompted him to think and write about music. In “Musicophilia” he writes about the effect of music on several different patients. There are stories of musical seizures, musical hallucinations, musical dreams and a man who became obsessed with Chopin after being hit by lightning.
“The Marriage of True Minds” by Matmos
You might have to file this one under pseudoscience, but there’s no denying the band used the rigorous parameters of a science experiment in making these songs. Matmos re-enacted an experiment called the GANZFELD experiment, designed to create a scientifically verifiable way of investigating ESP. They isolated subjects in a room and used sensory deprivation techniques on the subjects. The subjects were instructed to clear their mind and try to receive any incoming psychic signals. Meanwhile, a band member sat in an adjacent room and tried to transmit “the concept of the new Matmos album” into the mind of the subject in the other room. They used the results of these experiments as source material, blueprints or restrictions in the creation of this new Matmos album.
“Science is Fiction: 23 Films” by Jean Painlevé
Jean Painlevé was a biologist and filmmaker who started filming undersea documentaries in the late 1920s. In order to do this, he encased his camera in a custom made waterproof box. Although he did not consider himself a Surrealist, the influence of that movement can be seen in both the style and the subject matter of his films. The result is something like Jacques Cousteau meets the oil projections that used to play behind Grace Slick as she sang about Alice in Wonderland. Naturally, some of these films needed a live score. In 2001 the band Yo La Tengo wrote a score for 8 of Panlievé’s short films and performed them live at the San Francisco Film Festival. This collection of films includes a live performance of the score from 2005, as well as an interview with the band. Caution: the music for “The Love Life of the Octopus” might melt your brain.